Who knew—but yes, next week is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week. How sad is it that we have to have a week devoted to education and awareness on this topic?

It’s tax season (“busy season” as my CPA friends call it), and prime time for identity thieves to reap millions in fake and fraudulent tax returns as they have done in the past.

To combat this widespread and serious problem, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has dubbed the week of January 29 – February 2, 2018 as “Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week,” and has announced a number of free webinars, Twitter chats and helpful information to prevent tax identity theft, and resources in the unfortunate event you become a victim of tax identity theft.

The FTC resources can be accessed here.

Here is a schedule of events so far:

  • January 29, 2 p.m. EST — The FTC and the Identity Theft Resource Center co-host a webinar for consumers about tax identity theft, IRS imposter scams, how to protect yourself, and recovery steps for victims.
  • January 30, 2:30 p.m. EST — The FTC, AARP Fraud Watch Network, AARP Foundation Tax-Aide program, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration invite consumers to a webinar about tax identity theft and IRS imposter scams.
  • January 31, 11 a.m. EST — The FTC and the Department of Veterans Affairs co-host a Twitter chat for service members, veterans, and their families about minimizing your risk of tax identity theft and recovering if you’re a victim.
  • January 31, 1 p.m. EST — The FTC, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration discuss tax identity theft, IRS imposter scams, and what to do if you become a victim. This is a closed webinar for Veterans Administration employees, patients, and contractors.
  • February 1, 1 p.m. EST — The FTC and IRS offer a free webinar for small businesses about tax identity theft, imposter scams that target businesses, cybersecurity, data breaches, and free resources for your business, employees and customers.
  • February 1, 3 p.m. EST — The FTC and the Identity Theft Resource Center invite consumers to join a Twitter chat about tax identity theft, its warning signs, and what to do if it happens to you.

In addition, the FTC has published these tips to fight tax identity theft:

  • File your tax return early in the tax season, if you can.
  • Use a secure internet connection if you file electronically, or mail your tax return directly from the post office.
  • Respond to all mail from the IRS as soon as possible.
  • If tax identity theft happens to you, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report it to the FTC, file an Identity Theft Affidavit with the IRS electronically, and get a personal recovery plan.

We all have to file our tax returns, but following these tips may protect you from tax identity theft while you do so.